Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Two Harvard-led groups pull well-cited cancer papers for duplication

with 4 comments

the-journal-of-clinical-investigationTwo sets of authors based largely at Harvard Medical School have each retracted a paper for duplication in the same journal.

Both papers — which are more than a decade old — were pulled in The Journal of Clinical Investigation on November 1 by their respective corresponding authors.

One paper’s last author told us it was difficult to identify how the duplications occurred since the study took place so long ago, but added that multiple experiments had corroborated the results.

Here’s the first retraction notice for “Complementary roles of IRS-1 and IRS-2 in the hepatic regulation of metabolism:”

At the request of the corresponding author, the JCI is retracting this article. The authors were recently made aware of duplicated bands in Figures 1B, 3C, and 4C. After an extensive internal review, it was discovered that these duplications were introduced during figure assembly. The authors have stated that experimental data generated in the lab from the same time period support the original conclusions of the study and that other studies have subsequently confirmed and extended the primary conclusions of the manuscript. However, in the interest of maintaining accuracy in the published scientific literature and because the initial figures were not up to the standards of the JCI, the authors wish to retract this article. The authors apologize for these errors.

The 2005 study has so far been cited 176 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.  

The study’s last author, Carl Ronald Kahn, a prominent diabetes researcher and physician, told Retraction Watch:

…after an extensive internal review, it was discovered that duplications of autoradiograms of western blots were present in 3 panels in this paper.  Although it is difficult more than 10 years after the fact to determine exactly when or how these arose, they were apparently introduced during figure assembly.  Almost all of these were in panels representing western blots from control tissues.

Kahn added that the study was retracted

in the interest of maintaining accuracy in the published scientific literature and because the initial figures were not up to the standards of JCI…

The paper has been the subject of a PubPeer threadas have some of Kahn’s other papers. In one such thread about a 2006 study, an author responded to a commenter saying:

I have always trained my students and fellows and worked myself to uphold the highest level of scientific integrity, and to be respectful of the process and other scientists. There is no doubt that over a long career with hundreds of publications containing literally data from thousands of experiments, an occasional error in reporting an experiment will occur, but to the best of my knowledge, neither I nor any of my colleagues or trainees has ever committed intentional scientific fraud.

We’ve found six more corrections for Kahn and first author Cullen Taniguchi (five list Kahn as an author and three include Taniguchi) for image-related issues (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Taniguchi is now based at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Here’s the other retraction notice:

At the request of the corresponding author, the JCI is retracting this article. The authors were recently apprised that portions of the p27 blot and cyclin D1 blot of Figure 5A in this publication were duplicated and used to represent different samples. The corresponding author has indicated that previous and subsequent experiments from his and other laboratories support the conclusions reported in Figure 5A; however, the original data are no longer available. No issues have been raised with regard to any of the other data in the paper.

This 2002 paper, “Oncogenic role of the ubiquitin ligase subunit Skp2 in human breast cancer,” has been cited 215 times since publication.

We’ve reached out to the study’s first author, Sabina Signoretti (based at Harvard), and its last author, Michele Pagano (from New York University School of Medicine). We’ll update the post if we hear back.

We’ve come across some corrections fixing various problems with figures for this set of authors — three list Signoretti, one for Pagano, and three for penultimate author Massimo Loda (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). 

Other papers co-authored by Pagano and Loda are being discussed on PubPeer.

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Comments
  • Mario November 15, 2016 at 5:41 am

    “After extensive review … they were apparently introduced during figure assembly.” How else could this have happened? Why did it take extensive review to come to this (non) conclusion?

  • fernando pessoa November 25, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Re: http://www.cprit.state.tx.us/news/cprit-awards-product-development-and-research-grants-05-21-2014/

    AWARDED RESEARCH GRANTS
    Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members**:
    Cullen Taniguchi, M.D., Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from Stanford University – $2,000,000

  • fernandopessoa December 30, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Second Cullen M Taniguchi, C Ronald Kahn retraction.
    This time 2016 retraction of a 2003 J Biol Chem paper.

    J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 29;278(35):33377-83. Epub 2003 Jun 13.
    Bi-directional regulation of brown fat adipogenesis by the insulin receptor.
    Entingh AJ1, Taniguchi CM, Kahn CR.
    Author information
    1Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, One Joslin Place, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

    2016 retraction notice.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/53/27434

  • fernandopessoa December 30, 2016 at 4:10 am

    2016 correction figures 1 6 and 7 of 2004 Cullen M Taniguchi, C Ronald Kahn (Harvard) J Biol Chem paper.

    J Biol Chem. 2004 Sep 3;279(36):38016-24. Epub 2004 Jul 7.
    Differential roles of the insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) receptors in response to insulin and IGF-I.
    Entingh-Pearsall A1, Kahn CR.
    Author information
    1Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

    2016 Correction notice.
    http://www.jbc.org/content/291/42/22339.short

    “There were several errors in this paper that the authors wish to correct. In the corrected Fig. 1, the panel showing the IGF1KO cells has been deleted because it appears to be an incorrect image. As Fig. 2 contains three example clones of IGFRKO cell differentiation, the presence of the IGFRKO panel in Fig. 1, which was not referred to under the “Results,” was redundant. We have also added dashed lines to indicate that the image was a composite of different tissue culture dishes. In the experiments shown in Fig. 6, A and B, the samples were loaded sequentially on the same gel, and the same basal sample served as 0 nM ligand for both insulin and IGF-1 stimulation. To create the double panel figures used in the paper, therefore, the basal sample lane was duplicated and spliced next to the IGF-1 stimulated samples. To clarify the confusion that this has created, a vertical white line has been added to the corrected Fig. 6 to all of the IGF-1 panels to indicate that the unstimulated lane to the left of the line has been spliced in and is the same unstimulated sample as appears in the insulin panels. The experiments in Fig. 7, B and C, were performed in the same fashion as those in Fig. 6. Therefore, the basal lanes shown in the IGF-1-stimulated panels are the same as the insulin-stimulated panels. For clarification, vertical white lines have been added to these figures to indicate the area of vertical splicing. None of these clarifications has any effect on the results of the study or their interpretation.”

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